Working on a pottery wheel, especially while making something like a pitcher, is often a very serene and relaxing escape from the daily turmoil of work, stress and life. Getting a little down and dirty with one of earth’s natural resources, clay, and molding it into useful and beautiful pitchers is a great way to re-connect with nature. Pitchers are excellent beginning pots to work with, because they allow you to explore shaping forms on a wheel as well as gives you practice with creating and applying handles. Here are a few tips to get you started!
First, wedge about 2 to 3 pounds of clay and center it on your pottery wheel. Then, slowly, open it and create the base of your pitcher. Pull up the sides into a cylinder, keeping a little thickness in the walls so you can manipulate it later.
Once you’ve created your basic cylinder, you can now shape the final form. Keep in mind that you will be adding a lip and a handle to your form. When working with the rim of the pot, keep a little excess width so that there is a defined edge to the pitcher which will aid in ensuring that there is a nice spout. Many pitchers take on the shape of a vase, bulging in the middle, coming up into a tighter neck, and then flaring out again, however use your imagination! Think of how you’ll be using your pitcher, perhaps it would make more sense to leave it in a bowl shape if you’re planning on mixing things in it. Or consider keeping it a cylinder, for a more modern looking vase.
Now that you have your form, it’s time to add a spout. Very simply, make a “V” with your first two fingers pointing upward. Rest your fingers on the outside of the pot’s rim, where you’d like to place the spout. Then using your other hand, gently, pull the area between your fingers downward until you are satisfied with the results.
Finally, we come to attaching a handle and finishing the pitcher. Set your pitcher aside and let it dry a little until its leather hard. There are three different ways to make handles, coil, pulled and extruded. Coil handles are fairly self explanatory; you roll out your clay into a long coil, and then attach it to your pot. Extruded handles require using an extruder in which you push out a handle much like play-dough toys. Finally, pulled handles take a little bit of experience, starting with a massive ball of clay which you slowly pull down using lots of water to keep the form smooth and even. Form your handle into the desired shape and set aside. Finish off the bottom of your pitcher by trimming it before adding your handle by scoring both the handle and the pitcher before attaching it with slip.
Your pitcher is ready to be fired, glazed and enjoyed!